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Alta. pastor accused of violating the Public Health Act, still in custody for refusing conditions: RCMP




EDMONTON – A pastor west of Edmonton remains in custody Wednesday after being charged with violating Alberta Public Health Act and refusing to agree to the terms of his release, the RCMP said.

James Coates turned himself in to police on Tuesday, two days after an Alberta Health Services and RCMP service attended where he “did not comply with his Enterprise release terms” released a week ago, police said.

The pastor was charged with two counts of violating the Public Health Act and failing to meet a condition of his undertaking.

Coates attended a parole hearing on Tuesday and would be released on parole, but was held overnight in custody “after refusing to agree to those terms,” ​​the RCMP said.

These conditions, his lawyer told CTV News, include a ban on church services, but “Coates could not, in good conscience, agree to that condition.”

The pastor made a court appearance Wednesday and was given a second court appearance for next Wednesday as he continued to refuse to agree to the terms, Mounties added.

Weve been consistent in our approach to escalating implementation levels with Pastor Coates, and we were hoping to resolve this issue in another way, RCMP Insp said. Mike Lokken. The actions of the Pastors and the subsequent effects they could have on the health and safety of the citizens, dictated our response to this situation.

On Tuesday, Coates’ lawyer told CTV News his client was willing to go to jail in order to do the “right thing”.

“His first obedience is to his Lord, it is to his Lord. And normally, obeying Jesus and obeying the government go hand in hand,” said James Kitchen. “The government forces him to a position where he has to choose between disobedience to God and obedience to the government, or obedience to God and disobedience to the government.”

GraceLife was first mentioned for hosting more than 15 percent of its capacity in a December service, and the pastor was fined $ 1,200.

An order from Queen Bench Court was issued in January when it continued to violate COVID-19 restrictions.

GraceLife has been holding services for three weeks in a row after it was ordered to close in late January.

The church did not comply with the Public Health Act last Sunday, the RCMP said Wednesday.

A day earlier in a statement, GraceLife said: “We do not see our actions as perpetuating the longevity of COVID-19 or any other virus that will inevitably appear. If anything, we see our actions as contributed to its end in destructive blockages and the end of the effort to institutionalize the debilitating fear of viral infections.Our local church is clear proof that government blockades are unnecessary.In fact, it is also proof of how harmful they are “.

Criminal attorney Tom Engel says the RCMP should close the church and indict all those present.

“Every person who is in that church knows he is breaking the law,” he said.


Coates’s lawyer told CTV News GraceLife has an “extremely good” relationship with the RCMP because “the police have acted, in this case, very differently from what they have done with many other people.”

Complicating Kitchen’s claim is the fact that a retired Mountie, Paul Claassen, is GraceLife’s chair.

“This leads to the impression that there is a double standard, there is a bias in favor of this church,” Engel said.

But in a statement, Insp. Lokken said: “Our response to Church disrespect has been in line with our overall RCMP strategy in the Province which is: education, an opportunity for compliance and, most recently, enforcement. by any member of their administration or congregation, regardless of any past or present affiliation with our organization.

“The RCMP has conducted all their interactions with the Church in an impartial, professional and respectful manner.

With files from Bill Fortier and Alex Antoneshyn of CTV News Edmonton

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